“God Knows Our Needs!”
Most of us who grew up Lutheran spent some time studying Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Others of us who have come to the Lutheran church later in life may have received a copy of the Catechism with the instructions, “Spend some time reading through this so you know some of the key teachings of Luther on the faith.” I have certainly handed out many copies of the Small Catechism during my time as a minister. In truth, it’s pretty good reading and it has a good deal to say about things essential to our Christian faith. In this Catechism, Luther addresses The Ten Commandments, The Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, The Sacrament of the Altar, Confession, and The Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Coming at us first are the Ten Commandments.
We’ve all heard of the Ten Commandments. These were a part of the relationship being established between God and the Israelites and as such, they laid out for the people ten laws to observe in order to maintain their status and relationship as God’s people. Moses came down from the mountain with them. The first three commandments deal with our relationship towards God. The last seven commandments deal with how we are to treat each other, or what our relationships with each other ought to look like. When I teach the Ten Commandments to students, or any group for that matter, we soon realize the difficulty, or impossibility, of fully keeping them all. How many people can really say they have never made something in their life or this world their god, rather than honoring only the God of creation revealed to us through the gift of His son Jesus? How many of us have never coveted or desired something that belonged to someone else? The answer to both questions is a resounding “None of us.”
But there is a commandment that we can honor or keep and one that we may even be making plans to observe as we head into the summer months. That commandment is the third commandment where we are instructed to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Luther explained that this commandment meant “we should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear it and learn it.” Well, obviously, we think of and understand the Sabbath as our day of worship. And our Sabbath does provide opportunities for our faith to be nourished and for us to be refreshed as we hear God’s Words of grace and love and hope and promise. Indeed, God’s people ought always to be seeking out and looking forward to the Lord’s Day and being present in the faithful community of believers. Yet, there is more to this too.
One aspect that we often overlook is that in honoring the Sabbath, we are providing our bodies and minds the opportunity to be refreshed and recharged. The creation account tells us that on the seventh day, after God has completed all the work of creation, God rested! Someone once jokingly told me, “David, even God rested. Take a day off.” Well, the same is true for all of us. With that in mind, what are your plans this summer to find a day of rest? Have you made plans for a vacation? Are you intentionally making arrangements that allow your body to rest and your mind to be refreshed? This is all very important to the human body as we hear more and more about people experiencing overload and exhaustion. I believe some of the issues I read about where people verbally explode or act inappropriately could very well be tied to the fact they have no Sabbath observance, no rest, and no time where their main focus is on the God who created them. Isn’t it true, that when we’re exhausted – we are impatient?
The summer months are upon us. What are you planning to do to observe the Sabbath? What are you planning to do to get some much needed rest? What are you going to do to recharge your batteries and renew your energy? Remember the Sabbath was given to us for our good. Let’s give God our attention and worship, as well as allowing the Sabbath to help us take care of ourselves.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Take care of yourselves this summer, and I look forward to seeing you at worship as we praise the God who created us and the Christ who saves us.
Pastor Butler +